Design Ideas for Green School Grounds

Your Greening School Ground Project

Many school ground improvement initiatives include ‘greening’ projects. We know instinctively that children thrive in natural settings with opportunities to engage all their senses in exploration of nature, with a growing body of research supporting this. ‘Green’ or natural areas have great play value and promote children’s physical, mental, emotional and social development (see Children and Nature). They can also be cost effective and environmentally sustainable. In addition, they provide important learning opportunities that can be successfully linked to curriculum (see Resources).

Greening school grounds projects can be as simple as a ‘no mow’ area or planting native trees and shrubs. Many schools start with a small project or two and then develop their grounds over time, as funding becomes available (see Funders). This is an excellent way to proceed.

We are fortunate that many schools in New Brunswick have natural areas on or adjacent to school property that, with a little enhancement, make wonderful learning spaces. But even schools with limited outdoor space can be transformed into exciting, educational spaces with a little creativity.

How to Begin

We suggest you bring together a team of interested teachers, principal, parents, community members – and students! Have a good look at your school grounds and identify natural features that could be highlighted, as well as areas you would like to transform. Brainstorm about the types of projects that your school community would like. Some schools want nature trails and woodland seating areas. Others want students to learn about growing food and so build vegetable gardens. Go with your strengths and come up with a plan that will work for your school (Learning Outside can help you!). It’s a good idea to think ‘big picture’ and then break down your plan into projects that can be achieved in stages, building on your successes. Don’t forget that in addition to beautifying your school grounds and creating play areas for children and habitat for wildlife, you will be enhancing learning opportunities across all subject areas for your students (and teachers!).

For inspiration, check out our Success Stories.

The websites below offer some great ideas, design principles, guidelines, and more for your school ground greening and outdoor classroom projects.




Your Environmental Trust Fund at Work

Inspire Children.

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